Selectboard Reaffirms Interest in Fiber Optic Network

The Woodstock Selectboard last night approved the text of a letter it will now send to Governor Peter Shumlin, reaffirming its interest and support of fiber optic telecommunications for this community. The text of the letter — provided by the Woodstock Selectboard — is below.

The discussion about optimizing telecommunications access for business and homes will continue at the next Woodstock Selectboard meeting on Tuesday, September 4th. If you have any interest in these issues, you should pencil in the date.

The next meeting might even turn into a  “Stand-off at the OK Corral”.  We say this because we have various competing interests in this telecom conversation, which puts Woodstock in the middle of a statewide issue.

The players, so far, appearing before the Woodstock Selectboard, have included Fairpoint Communications and our own East-Central Vermont Community Fiber Network. The upcoming meeting will bring in competing VTEL for a visit (and an announcement?) and just to put the cherry on top of it, Vermont’s largest telecom player, Karen Marshall, working on the Governor’s behalf as the head of  ConnectVT.

Woodstock Early Bird is into the technicals and the politics of this issue just because of her nerdish beak-like qualities, but also because we think this is one of the most important issues in bringing this community up-to-speed literally into the 21st Century.

Here is the text of the letter to Governor Shumlin. We hope this helps move the information forward — whether via old-fashioned copper wire or via super-fast-speed-of-light fiber optic lines:

 

August 14, 2012

Governor Peter Shumlin
Executive Office of Governor
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609

Dear Governor Shumlin:

The Woodstock Selectboard commends you for your commitment to deploy broadband Internet service in all Vermont towns by the end of 2013. However, we are distressed to learn that the broadband service that may be extended to our town is copper-based DSL and not state-of-the-art fiber optics.

In 2008 the taxpayers in the Town of Woodstock voted to join ECFiber. The appeal of ECFiber is their goal to extend fiber-optic cable, a technology that can be described as “future-proof,” to every household. For the future growth of our town, DSL and coaxial cable are reaching the limits of their broadband capacity. The capacity of fiber optic cable, on the other hand, appears to be limitless.

We understand that your administration has allocated $10 million of which $3.6 million is targeted to broadband coverage for un-served areas across the state under VTA RFP-128.

We also understand that your administration, through the DPS and PSB, has an agreement with FairPoint Communications to use $6.3 million of public funds to bring DSL broadband to many un-served areas of Vermont. Since this $6.3 million was paid by FairPoint as a penalty, it is our understanding that FairPoint should not have any discretion in how this money is spent or in the choice of towns to serve.

According to a survey commissioned by the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA), approximately half of these un-served Vermonters reside in one of the 23 ECFiber towns. The other half live in towns that are not part of ECFiber.

ECFiber proposed to cover unserved areas within its 23 towns under VTA RFP-128.  However, it would appear that FairPoint undermined and disrupted this VTA grant process by claiming all the un-served areas in these 23 towns. FairPoint notified PSB of this decision after the deadline for RFP-128 submissions which caused a major disruption in the VTA RFP-128 granting process. This action by FairPoint is a disservice to all Vermont because it, at once, denies the RFP-128 grant to ECFiber and yet it leaves many non-ECFiber areas without any broadband alternatives.

By awarding FairPoint Communications the entire $6.6million package, the VTA sent ECFiber home empty-handed. To add insult to injury, the FairPoint award effectively excludes ECFiber from receiving any future state funding.

We know that you have worked to provide broadband access to all Vermonters. We wish to see your legacy remembered as one that was forward-looking and used the best technology available, rather than employ a technology near obsolesce that may need to be replaced in a few short years.

The Town of Woodstock stands behind ECFiber and it is our strong desire to have fiber optic cable available to all households and businesses in our town.

We hope it is in your power to right this wrong by directing FairPoint to deploy their network in the non-ECFiber towns, leaving ECFiber to complete its mission to deploy gigabit fiber in its 23 member towns.

 

Sincerely,

Woodstock Selectboard

Preston Bristow, Chair

John Doten

Bruce Gould

Bob Holt

Margaretta Howe

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris Miller on August 16, 2012 at 09:24

    One wonders why Woodstock is getting so much attention from the “players” in this drama. Are Fairpoint, VTEL and the VTA spending as much time in other ECFIber towns that have also written letters to the Governor?

    ECFiber is not just another telecom company competing with the other dogs. It is an entity formed and owned by the Towns at the direction of the voters to provide us with a service that the “marketplace” has so far failed to provide, and shows no signs of ever being able to provide. We can certainly debate whether Woodstock wants to continue to be part of this effort, but until we vote differently, we are in it and our elected representatives should support it.

    My thanks to Selectboard for sending this letter.

    Like

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